Joe Biden announced Tuesday that his administration hopes to have enough doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer or early fall.
“This will be one of the most difficult operational challenges we’ve ever undertaken as a nation,” Biden said.
He added that he plans to give governors more advanced notice on vaccine allocations because the process established by the Trump administration “was in worse shape than we anticipated.”
“We will both increase the supply in the short term by more than 15% and give our state and local partners more certainty about when the deliveries will arrive,” Biden said.
Despite promising to have fully vaccinated 300 million Americans by the “end of summer, beginning of fall,” Biden urged that the plan “will take time.”
“Despite our best intentions, we’re going to face setbacks,” he said.
Though Biden claims to have been left a “dismal failure” by Trump and plans to make it all better, let’s look at the facts.
The Biden administration seems to have one goal: to misconstrue Operation Warp Speed, a Trump program with unparalleled success on the public health front. Never before has a vaccine been created, approved and distributed in a year or less. You could call it a miracle.
As of Sunday, the CDC reported that 41.4 million COVID vaccines have been distributed around the country, and 20.5 million doses have been administered. But, a majority of this happened before Biden was inaugurated.
According to Brian Harrison, Chief of Staff of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, “in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration, states and jurisdictions reported having vaccinated around 1 million Americans per day. This was achieved just one month after the Moderna coronavirus vaccine received its emergency use authorization and five weeks after Pfizer received the same authorization for its vaccine.”
“We delivered two extraordinarily safe and effective vaccines, with more in the pipeline; a pace of vaccinations surpassing aspirations of the Biden team; incredible delivery logistics; multiple authorized COVID-19 treatments; a testing capability that is the envy of the world; and a nimbleness to mobilize and adapt not experienced since World War II,” Harrison said.
Indeed, getting as many people vaccinated in the shortest amount of time is the best way to combat the pandemic.
But, the key is figuring out how to accomplish that goal.
In a New York Times op-ed, Robert Wachter and Dr. Ashish Jha offer a suggestion: make it a lottery.
They suggest that by the end of January, the United States should be done vaccinating healthcare workers and long-term-care residents. The next group should be people over the age of 55 from oldest to youngest. This would cover approximately 97 million.
Then, the lottery should come into play.
Because vaccine distribution is complicated, they argue that attempting to prioritize some groups over others is impractical.
“And for the rest, a lottery, perhaps a national or state-based one that selects a number at random every two weeks, corresponding to the month or last digit of people’s birthdays,” they suggest. “Few would love the idea, but it would be equitable and apolitical, and people would know that their number would be called sometime in the next several months.”
Since the beginning, team left urged Trump not to politicize the vaccine development process. Now, it is exactly what they are doing, claiming they inherited a “huge mess,” “so much worse than [they] could have imagined.”
But, what they inherited is a medical miracle that they have the opportunity to build on.